While Lake Placid VS Anaconda ended by sequelbaiting “Crococonda VS Sheriffs”, they didn’t actually followed that up, at least not yet, as for the next (and at the time of writing, the last) Lake Placid installment we have a prequel.
A prequel, kinda. Sorta. We’ll get to that, but it’s not a prequel for the character of Jimmy Bickerman played by Robert Englund, nor any of the Bickermans, it’s a prequel for the original saltwater crocodile, explaining how the fuck a crocodile came to inhabit the lake in the first place.
Actually, not quite, but yep, every excuse is good to pump anything out with the franchise name. It always is.
The plot follows a group of young activists that are challenged via video by an ex-friend of theirs into travelling to an island in the middle of a lake with an old abandoned facility on it. There they discover their old ex-pal is dead and there’s something lurking about the place, probably responsable for the massacre they witness…
You can tell right away this isn’t trying to feel like the other Lake Placid movies, it still put out by Sony via their Dimension Films division, but it’s handled by a couple production companies and shot entirely in South Africa instead of Bulgaria (or Romania, or any east european country).
So it has a completely different look, overall, which is nice since this is clearly not trying to match the older movies in tone or visual feel, and the positive is that we have bigger production values this time around… or at least in some scenes, not that it looks bad or ubercheap, it doesn’t, but in the some scenes the scenography and cinematography just look way better, and in others we gotta contend with distractingly cheap gore effects and low budget fake severed limbs.
Though, the serious tone suffers from some hiccups, as some scenes (like them finding half a torso really up in a tree, like, almost on top) accidentally come off as cheesy more than scary or foreboding, like, how the hell did he got chomped by the crocodile while being THAT up in height on the tree? And yeah, while the croc does look WAY better here compared to pretty much all the other sequels (and not bad on its own merits), it’s also prone to looking better in some shots and way worse in other, and i do wish they spent some more on the CG for the creature.
Still, it looks fairly good for a direct-to-video production, and this one spice things up with some elements of the “found footage” kind, with a touch of modern genre sensitivites (including some avoidable self-refentiality), and a different direction, going for a serious tone, which i commend and its refreshing for a series like this, which started almost as parody of Jaws ripoffs and b-movies, to see a new installment actually trying to make a proper horror thriller about a killer croc.
And honestly succeeding more than one would expect from a movie like this that ultimately didn’t need to exist at all for the sake of the franchise’s overall storyline.
It’s finally time to address the “prequel” thing as it’s not technically one, in the sense it tells you how the giant crocodiles got to Black Lake, Maine, why they were made (emphasis on “made”) in the first place, but the crocs’ (and by extension the facility’s) backstory doesn’t actually matter, since we didn’t need this question to be answered in the first place, even more since the explanation itself could easily be guessed (someone brought the crocodiles in Black Lake from somewhere else).
As an hilarious “plus” that actually makes the subtitle not stupid or random, the whole story of this movie it’s set in modern times, where people talk about getting likes on Twitter, doing guerrilla activism against pharma companies, everyone has and uses smarthphones, etc.
So yeah, it’s more like a “legacy sequel” (groan) that also explains some questions about the origins of the crocodiles that eventually infested Black Lake in Maine.
Maybe it’s not what you wanted from the franchise, but overall, both as its own thing or as part of the franchise, Lake Placid Legacy it’s a pretty decent little horror thriller killer croc movie, with some decent acting, mostly likeable characters (a welcome change) and some atmosphere to it, which is baffling considering the franchise this is technically part of, but in keeping with some tradition, there’s a final excavator “fight” with the creature, not quite the forklift battle against the t-rex in Carnosaur 2, but then again what is?
Seriously, it’s a nice little surprise killer croc movie.
It’s no Crawl, but still worth a watch!